Three times a year, St. Januarius renews his bond with Naples and his blood dissolves in front of thousands of citizens and worshippers. At least this is what Neapolitans hope. On the Saturday preceding the first Sunday of May, on 19 September and on 16 December, they flock to the cathedral to witness the miracle of the liquefaction.
The atmosphere is dense with expectation, in the first row the ‘parenti’ await the moment in which they must sing chants and invocations to the saint for the blood to return to its natural state, waiting for the cardinal to display the vial and the assistant to wave the handkerchief to announce the miracle.
They are elderly women, descendants of Eusebia, the nurse who collected St. Januarius’ blood. They are relatives, parenti in fact, bound to the saint by an ancestral familiarity, a blood bond, on such familiar terms as to call him ‘Yellow face’ or scold him when the miracle takes too long. They repeat archaic rituals which are rooted in the Greek origins of Naples, when the women mourned their dead young men, hoping to resuscitate them and renew the myth of the eternal return. For them St. Januarius is like a son.